Yesterday (July 6th 2016) I attended a memorial service in Middle Temple Hall in London, alongside two hundred others. Together, we honoured the memory of one of the most startlingly beautiful and keen minds it had ever been my honour with which to connect, sadly taken from the world on April 18th this year.
As a QC, words were John Jones' weapons of mass enlightenment. He understood all the subjects he soaked up into his ever-expanding horizons well enough to break them down for the lay perspective to appreciate while at the same time, possessing that rare ability to experience each life that he touched on its own terms and through its own eyes. This was most appreciated by someone like me who felt like a plankton when engaged in conversation with the man. He was a humble genius, a quiet whirlwind, wickedly humorous.
He was a philosopher who transformed and wielded his vast knowledge to challenge the injustices of the world and drag them into the light. His desire to see justice served did not flow just from a keen understanding of the law as it exists, but also an incredible core sense of morality and duty to continue to shape those laws in an ever-evolving world. That sense of morality was one of the reasons he chose to be a trustee on the board of OPF. Ten years ago, he climbed Kilimanjaro with his wife Misa to raise funds for the plight of the Orangutans and it was at a charity event in London where we met and I instantly knew what it would mean to have him on our Board of Trustees. His passion and enthusiasm were infectious and inspiring. He truly believed in his heart, that the atrocities being inflicted on primates were no less important than those suffered by his fellow men and women.
What I will remember most from the service was the choice of music. I discovered that Lennon and McCartney’s Blackbird and Bach’s Prelude for Unaccompanied Cello were two of John’s favourite pieces. Beautiful, haunting melodies, all the more poignant for their solo nature, perhaps a perfect reflection of the way John lived his life. He was engaged on every level with his experiences yet stood alone. John was a man who stared into the abyss on a daily basis, a voice for the demons and demonised alike, and in one moment, the abyss stared back and that beacon of light was extinguished.
People like John should be celebrated, not mourned. As difficult as his loss to the world is to bear, his light lives on in the many whose hearts and minds he touched.
That light can never be extinguished.
- Dr Gráinne McEntee, OPF Head of Operations